The Rice v Asplund threshold is a legal principle derived from the ruling in the Australian case Rice v Asplund (1979) FLC 90–725. The principle stipulates that before a court will agree to rehear a parenting matter, the party seeking rehearing must demonstrate that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the last court order was issued.

The concept is based on the assumption that keeping the child’s care arrangements constant and consistent is in their best interests. Allowing parties to dispute the same issues in court may disrupt the child’s life and jeopardise their welfare. As a result, for the court to consider re-hearing a parenting case, the change in circumstances must be significant. 

The threshold for identifying a significant change in conditions is high. The change must be significant in nature, or a significant modification to the parenting arrangements. It must also have a meaningful, tangible impact on the child’s welfare. 

Examples of these are as follows:

  • A party seeks to relocate with the children;
  • The current orders were imposed without all relevant material being presented to the court;
  • The parties have since consented to new parenting arrangements (e.g., entered into a parenting plan), hence the current orders no longer reflect the real arrangements for the children;
  • A significant period of time has transpired between the final orders being made and the application being filed;
  • One or more parties have re-partnered;
  • There has been abuse of the children;
  • A party to the proceedings or the child is in ill-health.

The Rice v Asplund criterion is not an absolute rule; in some cases, a court may agree to rehear a parental dispute even if there has been no significant change in circumstances. However, in general, the principle serves as a deterrent to parties who repeatedly come to court for the same issues, while also ensuring that the child’s best interests are protected.

If you’re facing challenges related to parenting arrangements or considering reopening a parenting matter under the Rice v Asplund principle, it is advisable to consult with a family law attorney

Protect your rights and your child’s well-being by seeking the support and guidance of an experienced legal advocate. Contact us now for a free no-obligation consultation.

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